2017 ATP Estoril Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
There are three ATP 250 tournaments this week, the first of which takes place in Estoril, Portugal, as players continue to chase points on clay this Spring.
Millennium Estoril Open
ATP World Tour 250
May 1-7, 2017
Prize Money: €482,060
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Pablo Carreno Busta (20)
2: Richard Gasquet (23)
3: Gilles Muller (28)
4: David Ferrer (32)
First round matches to watch:
(8)Benoit Paire vs. Nicolas Almagro
The defending champion Almagro could be knocked out in the first round in this one, as Benoit Paire is a relatively formidable opponent for a 250, and has a semifinal on clay already this year, while Almagro has struggled. This matchup is relatively even, but with Almagro yet to find his footing this season, I have Paire edging through.
(5)Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Yuichi Sugita
Del Potro should dominate this matchup, but Sugita qualified and reached the quarters in Barcelona winning matches against Robredo, Gasquet, and Carreno Busta. Normally a challenger journeyman, Sugita’s form looks to be at a career peak and Del Potro must be careful to avoid the upset. The Argentine hasn’t played a match on clay in a year.
(6)Joao Sousa vs. (Q)Bjorn Fratangelo
Home hero Sousa has lost two straight while Fratangelo has qualified for consecutive ATP tournaments. Sousa should be favored at home, but unlike most Americans Fratangelo has real skill on clay and this is another upset watch match. I still have Sousa prevailing.
With Tommy Robredo having lost three straight, top seed Pablo Carreno Busta should defeat him or Evgeny Donskoy, then Paire or Gastao Elias (who opens with Malek Jaziri) to reach the semifinals. The Spaniard is the most solid clay courter in this tournament. The section below PCB features a host of strugglers, David Ferrer has lost five straight, while Denis Istomin has lost four straight. Local favorite Frederico Ferreira Silva is still a big underdog and thus Ferrer should fall to Del Potro in the quarterfinals, after Del Potro beats Sugita and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (who opens with Ryan Harrison, who has also lost five straight).
Despite being upset last week, Richard Gasquet is still a solid enough clay court veteran to be favored over Carlos Berlocq or qualifier Elias Ymer in round 2. Kyle Edmund is 2-2 in his last four matches and opens with red hot 23 year old qualifier Joao Domingues, who is making his ATP main draw debut at home. Edmund should fall to Kevin Anderson, after Anderson beats qualifier Sal Caruso, and then Gasquet over Anderson is the pick to reach the semifinals.
Despite losing three straight matches, Paul-Henri Mathieu is ripe to make the quarterfinals over journeyman Pedro Sousa, and Gilles Muller, who struggles on clay. I also have Taro Daniel finding form, defeating Renzo Olivo, and Joao Sousa to bust open this section, he should also defeat Mathieu to reach the semifinals.
Dark Horse: Taro Daniel
In a weak and difficult to predict draw, the section that has Joao Sousa along with Mathieu and Taro Daniel is the most open. I don’t trust Sousa in Estoril, and Daniel has demonstrated ability on clay in the past, he’s talented on the surface and has great potential. This week is his opportunity to show it and reach the semifinals or better.
Carreno Busta d. Del Potro
Gasquet d. Daniel
Carreno Busta d. Gasquet
I’ll back Carreno Busta to get a third career ATP title in this field, Del Potro is dangerous but has limited recent history on clay, and Gasquet’s form is not his best.